Bench Score 30 Points As Cougs Secure 3rd Place In CAA Tournament
Jeff Walker, Sports Writer
After falling in overtime to William & Mary on Thursday night, the College of Charleston men's basketball team rebound and pick up a much needed win, downing Elon 84-74 in their final road game of the season. It is the fifth straight game (win or loss) where the Cougars have scored more than 80 points in the contest. With the victory CofC improve to 22-8 on the season and 11-6 in the Colonial Athletic Association.
The Cougars will close out the regular CAA season when they host UNC Wilmington next Saturday at TD Arena in a 'white out game'. With the win over Elon the Cougars have earned third place in the upcoming CAA Championship, and will host the sixth seeded winner on Sunday night March 10 at the North Charleston Coliseum.
Jarrell Brantley lead the Cougars Saturday night with a game tying 24 points, making good on 9 of 14 from the floor, including 3 of 6 from beyond the arc. Brantley added a double double hauling in a game best 12 rebounds. It is his third straight game with a double double, and his 11th on the season. Grant Riller added 18 points for the Cougars. Charleston got 30 points from their bench with Zep Jasper (3 from long range) and Jaylen McManus leading the way with nine apiece. Sam Miller finished with seven points including one from long range.
With Riller an equally offensive weapon, Brantley says he dedicates a lot of effort into perfecting his scoring opportunities. "I put a lot of time into it. I would hope it would look easy, but it may not always be easy. I put a lot of time into my craft. The coaches work with me a lot and they give me the ball. I've gotta trust myself and trust what I've worked on. It's been working out for me so far."
The Cougars set the pace of the game early, with Brantley opening with a 3-pointer inside on the team's first possession. A long range missile by Elon's Kris Wooten gave the Phoenix their only lead (10-9) on the night with 13:53 still to play in the opening period. It was all CofC from that point on as they kept the home team at bay. When Marquise Pointer drained a three at the 3:20 mark the Cougars went up by 11 points. Charleston would take an eight point margin into the locker room, up 39-31 at the break.
Charleston poured in on in the first three minutes of the second half. Brantley hit from long range, followed by two from Brevin Galloway from 3-point land, as the visitors soon built a 20 point (53-33) advantage. The Cougars maintained a mostly double digit lead throughout, with Elon cutting it to nine points on three occasions, and to just seven points (70-63) with under six minutes to play. But Jasper answered from downtown to secure a double digit lead. CofC went up again by 14 points with just over three minutes left on the clock, finishing the game with smart play for an 84-74 victory.
CofC Head Coach Earl Grant attributed another high scoring contest to his reserve players. "Our bench provided us a great lift. We scored a lot of points when you add it all up. Part of the reason why we have been scoring a lot of points, because we have great players that have been together for awhile. We didn't turn it over tonight which was more like us. We had a lot of assists. We did a great job of sharing the ball. We found two-or-three things offensively that got us into a flow tonight."
Consistency from the bench during the season has been a mainstay according to Coach Grant. "They are good players. Certainly Sam (Miller) played two years with a really good Dayton team that won a lot of games. He was in the rotation there. He is starting to figure out his role here. It's a good thing to see. The way he passes the ball, the way he can shoot it and the way he can catch it. Jaylen Richard and Jaylen McManus have been consistent all year coming off the bench and giving us a great lift. You throw in Zep Jasper who started the first 10 games for us. We do have a really good bench. They are young and energetic. We just need to continue to build on it."
The Phoenix had two players finish in double figures with Seniors Tyler Seibring and Sheldon Eberhardt scoring 24 and 13 points respectively in their final home game at Elon. The Phoenix close out their season on the road with games against Towson and William & Mary this week.
Over his career at CofC Brantley has scored well against Elon and the senior power forward attributes that to preparation. "Coach has pretty much given me most of the leadership besides Marquise, Nick (Harris) and Grant. He's given me a lot. He puts the ball in my hand a lot, so I have to be able to make the right decision. I'm trying to do that more. I watch film a lot and I'm trying to get better at that (being a playmaker)."
CofC will host UNCW (9-21, 5-12 CAA) in both teams' regular-season finale on Saturday, March 2 at 4 p.m. (ET) at TD Arena. Tickets are available for purchase by calling (843) 953-COFC or online at: www.CofCSports.com/tickets